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Thread: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

  1. #11
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    I have a Tobias that I bought inexpensively years ago. While it's "accurate" within a range of densities, I value it mostly for comparative measurements only.
    I have two Tobias and I'd not part with them. What exactly is wrong with yours? I was able to get parts for one of mine a few years ago right from Tobias as they are still in business.

    Recently one of them needed a new switch that was easy to find at Mouser. Other than that they are both still working great and read perfectly.

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  2. #12

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Since the late 1970s, I have been using a MACBETH TD-504 densitometer. It has never failed me. If I needed another densitometer for whatever reason, I would without doubt find another TD-504.

  3. #13

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Since the late 1970s, I have been using a MACBETH TD-504 densitometer. It has never failed me. If I needed another densitometer for whatever reason, I would without doubt find another TD-504.
    I too used a TD 504 for years. Problem is, they were mostly made in the 1960's-1970's, so getting a bit old. Try to find a PM tube if it goes out! No doubt about it, it's great when it works! I sold mine while it was still working. The X-Rite 301 can be a much newer unit (if you get a single button as opposed to the older 2 button model) and the Ihara's newer still!

  4. #14

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    The clamshell one I mentioned, easily available used under $100, has the same rated accuracy as the X-rite. I'll correct my original post, it runs on 4 AAs only, not an adapter.

  5. #15

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    I have two Tobias and I'd not part with them. What exactly is wrong with yours? I was able to get parts for one of mine a few years ago right from Tobias as they are still in business.

    Recently one of them needed a new switch that was easy to find at Mouser. Other than that they are both still working great and read perfectly.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Densitometer Switch 1.jpg 
Views:	16 
Size:	59.6 KB 
ID:	213941
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Densitometer Switch 3.jpg 
Views:	18 
Size:	54.0 KB 
ID:	213942
    Mine isn't accurate at higher densities, though it's accurate at lower densities.

    I'll give Tobias a call. Maybe they refurbish and update models.

  6. #16

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    Mine isn't accurate at higher densities, though it's accurate at lower densities.

    I'll give Tobias a call. Maybe they refurbish and update models.
    Remember that for film, you only need densities from 0 to 2.0 or less. So if it's accurate at lower densities, you may be ok.

  7. #17

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    It's important to build versatility into the negative itself to begin with. Papers change. The predominance of VC papers today, versus past graded papers, certainly makes life easier. But there's no substitute for getting the scene range you're after onto the portion of the film curve which counts. Not all films are the same; therefore, any kind of generic "one shoe fits all" advice concerning zone placement, ideal densities, even how many alleged Zone pigeonholes there are, blah, blah, is simply bad advice. Learning how to densitometer plot your own specific film and developer variables does help with respect to any consequent meditative visualization of what is actually going on with the exposure itself. But don't get hung up with it. Plenty of expert technicians turn out to be lousy photographers themselves. The whole point in understanding the specifics is so that you can intuitively feel them down the line, respond spontaneously, and not get tangled up in mere numbers. Any chosen film should become a familiar friend you don't need to argue with.
    Thank you; I can recognize good and wise advice, and appreciate your giving it...
    ... JMOwens (Mt. Pleasant, Wisc. USA)

    "If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." ...Michelangelo

  8. #18

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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    I use this one: http://www.darkroomautomation.com/em.htm. Added advantage for me is that the factor of the enlarger gets included in the measurements, so the results are much more useful for working with the zone system. Very affordable at $94!
    The future is not what it used to be - Arthur C. Clarke

  9. #19
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    Mine isn't accurate at higher densities, though it's accurate at lower densities.

    I'll give Tobias a call. Maybe they refurbish and update models.
    The high readings wander or are inconsistent? I'm pretty sure I digitized the service manual and can send it.

  10. #20
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Which Densitometer to Purchase?

    Jeroen - I have different types of easel meters. All were a lot more expensive than that one, and one in particular reads over a far wider density range in direct density units. It was also specially designed for color work, yielding correct ND values regardless of the amount of kind of color filtration (therefore distinct from an ordinary color densitometer, which makes three selective spectral readings). No longer made. The problem with most such devices is that they have no light integration or cosine correction feature for off-axis readings. So you want to take readings directly below the lens position. But at only $94, I'm surprised they aren't selling like hotcakes. Nice that they offer one tweaked for pyro stain too. Along with a simple math calculator, it's a lot easier to work in actual density units than in lumens like a lux meter provides over its limited range.

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